Film Review: The Other Guys

24 09 2010

In my never-ending quest to write about all lifestyle subjects that you’d be interested in, I’m experimenting with reviewing films that I go to see hopefully on a weekly basis. I’ll tag them under music and film so you can read them by subject if that’s what you’re into.

I will be opening this segment by reviewing The Other Guys, which is the latest offering from Will Ferrell and Anchorman director Adam Mackay. The movie tells the story of an unlikely partnership between Ferrell’s character, Allan Gamble and Mark Wahlberg who plays Terry Hoitz. Gamble is the risk-avoiding desk monkey who specialises in forensic accounting and Hoitz is an edgy livewire who is trying to overcome wrecking his career prospects since he shot a much-loved New York sports star.

The two are at odds until they stumble upon a fraud case that implicates the upper echlons of New York society. Not only have they got to get to the bottom of the case but they’ve got to work against their own department who think that the duo are on course for another embarrassment.

The Other Guys can be viewed as a partial return to form for Ferrell as it is a big improvement on his more recent offerings. I was torn between whether his movies have been getting progressively worse since Anchorman or if it is the random improvisations of Ferrell himself that has become stale. The Other Guys has a lot of moments where Ferrell is amusing and the chemistry with Wahlberg, albeit very offbeat, provides laughs for the audience. However, there are still shades of Ferrell’s laboured improvisations in the movie where it brought a polite smile to my face but it was more in appreciation of his efforts than the jokes themselves. There is a whole thread of the story, where Gamble confesses to being a pimp at college which was strange as I felt like the film was insisting was an absolutely hilarious concept, and it was for the first two minutes, but the more the movie went into it, the evident it became that it was a clumsy add on to the movie that Ferrell probably found funny.

As I said, this is only one side to a film. Wahlberg in my opinion, propped up the movie to a large extent and was very funny as Ferrell’s straight man. Anyone who saw him play Sergeant Dignam in The Departed knows that the man can pull off a kind of comedy that makes you laugh and a bit scared at the same time. There is an excellent part of the movie where Hoitz shamelessly hit’s on Gambles inexplicably attractive wife, played by Eva Mendez which was a great facet of the movie and a nice touch.

Cameo appearances by Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson are brilliant, it was just a shame that there wasn’t more of them in the movie. Michael Keaton plays the beleaguered police chief, for the most part to good effect (although there’s a TLC joke in there with him that I couldn’t help think was another one of Ferrell’s whimsical set-pieces that don’t quite come off). Steve Coogan plays the Bernie Madoff style character which is fine, but I judge Steve Coogan by harsh standards as I’ve never seen him in a Hollywood film where he is funny but it’s frustrating from an individual who gave the world Alan Partridge – same problem with Ricky Gervais!

Overall the film has regular laughs and there is enough of a story in there to provide entertainment. The script doesn’t flow as well as it should and I think it’s because Ferrell’s improv get’s crowbarred into places where it’s not necessarily needed. It’s a much better offering than Step Brothers or Talladega Nights but I don’t think Anchorman fans should break out their jazz flutes just yet.

2.5 stars

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